Public relations agencies have well-known industry tools they rarely share with their clients: expert sourcing platforms like Qwoted and HARO. In the world of journalism, media, and content marketing, credible and expert sources are the backbone of any great story. For small businesses, developing a solid media presence enhances credibility and broadens the potential customer reach. Communications professionals who aren’t familiar with Qwoted and HARO are missing out on the invaluable ways these platforms can get their company’s leadership more exposure—as well as securing valuable website backlinks.
In this blog, we’ll explore the features, benefits, and potential drawbacks of Qwoted and HARO, to help you make an informed decision when choosing between handling your PR internally or outsourcing to an agency.
Qwoted and HARO, short for Help a Reporter Out, are platforms that connect journalists with industry experts, ensuring resulting publications are trustworthy, engaging, and insightful. They provide a way for media professionals to quickly find the best expert for their story, as well as businesses looking to amplify their visibility (and potentially earn coveted “dofollow” backlinks from media outlets).
Started by PR industry professionals in 2019, Qwoted aims to democratize PR and create a thriving network of media members, PR reps, and small businesses.
Qwoted’s key features and benefits for businesses include:
Staff support: You’re assigned an account support person to help answer any questions that may come up. Their contact information is clearly visible on your dashboard, and the Qwoted team responds quickly to chat messages and phone calls.
Founded in 2008, HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is another popular platform for journalists to find expert sources. Cision acquired HARO a few years later, and the platform was the standard for many years with little to no competition. This lack of competition allowed Cision to be fairly complacent about supporting HARO.
As of November 2023, there is a fair amount of competition, and HARO has seemingly scrambled to catch up. Throughout the past few months, Cision has announced a new app, Connectively, and states that “HARO will soon have a new home” inside Connectively. (Much of the language used to describe Connectively seems to mimic that of Qwoted.)
HARO’s interface is not what we’d call user-friendly. All copyright dates go back to 2015, and the site feels older than that.
Another drawback is that there is no option to view requests online unless you pay $49/month; instead, HARO emails a list. HARO provides the following in its user rules:
“Sources will receive three emails a day, Monday through Friday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. EST, with requests from reporters and media outlets worldwide. Scan the emails, and if you’re knowledgeable about any of the topics, answer the reporter directly through the anonymous @helpareporter.net email address provided at the beginning of the source request.”
You can select some topic areas to receive queries “even quicker.” Still, those areas are limited and aren’t targeted in a meaningful way:
Users submit pitches via email, and sometimes the reporter and outlet remain anonymous, making it challenging to position responses meaningfully for the audience. To review your past pitches, you have to enter the HARO website and view it in a block of text. All links convert to HTML, and the reporter’s name/outlet and the original request are nowhere to be found, so you’ll want to track your submissions separately.
When HARO was the only source platform online, top-tier journalists regularly used it. But, while HARO advertises on its homepage that Reuters, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal all use the platform, we speculate that HARO staff members would be hard-pressed to find a request from any of these outlets in the past six to nine months.
Why is that? We believe the explosion of AI-generated responses has driven many quality reporters to other platforms that more thoroughly monitor and weed out spammy and AI submissions.
As an integrated marketing agency, Dogwood sometimes sources experts for our clients’ content marketing, and we have used both platforms. Based on discussions with other industry professionals, we know the following to be true for other writers and journalists as well.
HARO pitches are more spammy than Qwoted’s, often providing low-quality AI-generated responses. And, because of the volume of people who receive HARO’s emails, the volume of responses is ridiculous.
For one request, “Favorite tools for starting an e-commerce business,” we sought responses from direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce companies in business for at least 18 months.
We received 76 responses; more than half were from marketing and SEO agencies, a quarter were not DTC e-commerce companies, and many of the remaining were fake accounts looking to build domains to sell. Filtering through so many junk responses to find the few valid ones takes valuable time. It’s no wonder quality journalists are leaving HARO.
Some people still use HARO because even at the basic/free level, pitches are unlimited. (You can pay HARO up to $149 monthly for keyword-based alerts, source profiles, and a searchable database.)
Qwoted’s basic plan provides:
If you have great experts who can weigh in on many requests, you may need more than two pitches a month. And there’s a two-hour delay, which can be frustrating when you have a great response and want to be one of the first respondents to a top-tier request.
We recommend you test the waters first to see how quickly you use your pitches before signing up for a $99 “pro” plan. Once you determine an upgrade may be beneficial, you’ll gain access to:
The Qwoted team is updating and improving the network and platform monthly. We encourage you to check it out to see everything they’ve added to it.
No matter which platform you select, both Qwoted and HARO users benefit most from an investment of time. Get to know the platforms, and more importantly, develop a strategic messaging document to position your leadership as trusted advisors and expert sources. With a solid core communications plan, you will be able to quickly use these sourcing platforms to your (and your company’s) benefit!
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